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Thursday 17 December 2009

Grigory Rasputin

On this day (or yesterday if he died before Midnight) according to the Old Russian calendar, 93 years ago, Grigory Rasputin was murdered in a madcap plan to save the Romanov dynasty. To this day the exact details of his death remain sketchy and Prince Felix Youssoupov's claims to have fired the fatal bullet seem somewhat far-fetched. Nevertheless, the man was killed in vain. It was too late to save the dynasty and it was probably too late for Rasputin to claim to have any influence in anything that was going on in Russia. Events were moving too quickly and Rasputin had already gone beyond his capacity to be of any assistance to anyone.

These are only my thoughts about him and they might be mistaken. Rasputin, to my mind, was a simple peasant with a remarkable gift. He cannot be dismissed as simply a charlatan because the Tsarina Alexandra was far too astute and spiritual a being to be conned by someone so superficial. The driving force behind the Tsarina was the natural desire to end her son's suffering and her sense of responsibility in supporting her husband, Tsar Nicholas, and ensuring that he was able to adhere to his Coronation Oath and maintain the stability of the country. Alexandra was first and foremost a wife and mother. She had no personal desire for power but she had married - out of love - one of the most significant players on the world stage: the Tsar of all the Russias, who, likewise, had no personal desire for power, only the sense of having to carry that burden to the best of his ability. As any loving wife would do, she supported her husband in his work. Their only son suffered from haemophilia - a condition which, at the time, meant the slightest knock could leave him in excruciating pain and even prove fatal. Moreover, that beautiful child, was being groomed to one day rule the mighty Russian Empire and Alexandra's role was so ensure that he was capable of so doing, but the poor boy was often laid low by his illness and, like any mother, Alexandra would have done anything to ease his pain.

Into this scenario stepped the rough peasant Rasputin with his mystical gifts of being able to alleviate suffering. He was certainly successful on one level and he was also able to give Alexandra the hope and support she craved. Naturally, he appeared to her as a holy 'Man of God' - and perhaps he was, in the beginning. Alexei (the Tsarevich) felt better when Rasputin assured Alexandra that all was well. Nowadays, when so much information is available about the power of the mind, such things make a lot of sense, but then it was simply 'miraculous'. Unfortunately, I think, Rasputin came to associate himself with his own power and, becoming arrogant in his complacency, completely lost sight of his gifts. He began interfering and, like a petulant child, became angry when he wasn't appreciated, and his anger was often followed by deep remorse. He was simply 'too big for his own boots'. He couldn't cope with his gifts and they began to fail him. There was no way he could have averted the war (interesting, considering the power of the mind, that he absented himself at the time its outbreak, by drawing to himself (unconsciously) an attack from a fanatical opponent); nor could he have prevented the Russian Revolution and he made his convenient escape by opening himself to being murdered only months before it all fell apart.

The truly mystical part of Rasputin is, to my mind, his way of thinking. A gifted man who could have done so much good, but he became so self-absorbed and incapable of using his gifts wisely that it led only to disaster for him and for a dynasty. I was taught in school that Rasputin was a major factor in sparking the revolution. I don't think that is true. I think he was merely an excuse, among many other excuses, for leading Russia into the chaos that followed. Alexandra and her children respected him and, for that reason alone, I think he needs to be remembered tonight.

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